Sarsaparilla root is commonly used as a flavoring for drinks, most notably root beer. However, this is the common name for a couple of different plants that are grown in different parts of the world. The Latin botanical name for this plant, when grown in India, is Hemidesmus indicus. When grown in Jamaica, Sarsaparilla root goes by the Latin botanical name of Smilax ornata. No matter what name it goes by, it is a very useful dried herb.
Sarsaparilla root, which is also goes by the common name of Red-bearded sarsaparilla, is commonly used for rheumatism and skin diseases, including thrush and scrofula. In Australia and Taiwan it is used as the flavoring in a popular soft drink. Stuart Little of the children’s story fame enjoyed this drink as well.